International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021 commemorated in a unique way by the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra
On January 27th 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration- and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army. Today, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the tragedy of the Holocaust in the Second World War, resulting in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others at the hands of the Nazi regime and its collaborators, takes place annually on January 27th. In light of restrictions imposed on concert performance in Israel due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra presented a unique and meaningful event to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2021. One of the people behind the program, entrepreneur and site preservation expert Roni Dotan, spoke of the decision to carry out this year’s commemorative event in a very different manner - to perform a few representative works in an authentic German railway carriage built in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century and used by the Nazis to transport Jews to the extermination camps.
The cattle carriage was brought to Netanya in January 2014. The car, known as "munchen12-246" was found in 2013 by Roni Dotan and Tatiana Ruge, Ms. Ruge specializing in commemoration of the Holocaust. It now stands in the precincts of Beit Yad Lebanim, Netanya. Roni Dotan explains: "While researching my family history, I visited a museum in Berlin, where they provided me with documents about family members I had no idea had perished in the Holocaust. Working with Tatiana Ruge, we found all of the material documenting how they had met their untimely and heinous deaths. It was then that I decided that, from this point on, my work would revolve around the spiritual satisfaction from this discovery. Thanks to Netanya Mayor Feirberg-Ikar, non-profit organizations and good people such as the Friedman family, who all rallied to support this project, we were able to bring the car to Netanya…”
The 2021 memorial concert was performed by four members of the NKO - concertmaster Gilad Hildesheim-violin, Svetlana Kaminsky-violin, Pavel Levin-viola and Irena Sokolov-’cello. Works played included the theme song composed by John Williams for “Schindler’s List”, two Yiddish songs arranged by Pavel Levin and “Hatikvah” (the Israeli national anthem). Some eighty years ago, the sounds emanating from this carriage would have been those of pain and despair. Here, hearing these fine instrumentalists in playing that was inspired and thought-provoking, poetic and moving, provides the listener with the opportunity to remember and think back to those people deported to the camps in such carriages.
Roni Dotan reminds us that music was played in the camps as prisoners left for a day’s hard labour and as they returned. Today this music is played in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and in honour of those who survived. The film also shows a number of Netanya artists busy at their easels outside the carriage, drawing inspiration for their painting from the music played by the quartet inside the carriage.
NKO CEO Hila Dagan adds that it is the moral human duty of all of us to pay tribute to the memory of the millions of victims who perished in the Holocaust and to honour those who survived.
Photographs: Nurit Mozes